UN Declares Family Planning A Universal Human Right
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) added access to contraception and other family planning measures to its list of universal human rights. Now amid other universal rights like freedom from slavery, protection from torture, and equality before the law, the freedom for a woman to choose when and how many children to have is foreseen to not only help lift nations out of poverty, but also to empower women worldwide.
The UNFPA reports that, "Women who use contraception are generally healthier, better educated, more empowered in their households and communities and more economically productive. Women's increased labor-force participation boosts nations' economies."
Although the UNFPA's counsel is non-binding and has no direct impact on international law, its bold declaration is surely one that will set an important precedent for the future, and one that may persuade countries that currently restrict access to contraceptives if not for health reasons, than for economic ones. Think Progress reports that a $4.1 billion budget for family planning funding could save $11.3 billion annually on health care in periphery countries.
Since August, political and religious conservatives in the United States have disputed the Affordable Care Act's mandate that insurances should cover contraceptives for women free of charge. Coupled with several studies, the UNFPA's report encourages countries to provide women with affordable access to contraceptive services by highlighting the widespread benefits of family planning.
The UNFPA does not support or promote abortion as a method of family planning, focusing instead on the prevention of unwanted pregnancies in order to eliminate recourse to abortion.
Jennifer Hicks is a Communications Intern for Campus Progress.